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Wausau East football talks about decision to cancel the 2021 varsity season

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 8:29 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Wausau East football will not play a varsity season in 2021 after not having enough players to field a team. The decision comes a canceled the second half of the 2020 season due to low numbers caused by COVID-19.

Athletic Director Kurt Vanden Heuvel says they’ve been building up to this decision for the last month.

“Everybody knew the situation. Everybody had a say. Everybody had a conversation.”

While last season saw similar issues, head coach Henry Kremnitzer attributes that more to the pandemic. He called this season a “byproduct” of those difficulties, with the sophomores having the most difficulties.

“That was trials and tribulations. This year, we’re building. This is something that we see as very positive,” he said.

Kremnitzer says there were just three juniors signed up to play football, and 14 upperclassmen as a whole. They have twice as many sophomores (27) as upperclassmen.

The team made the decision with the player’s input and sat down with parents last week.

“The cool reaction that we got was that the seniors want to play football. So that’s a no-brainer. Trying to find ways for those seniors to play football,” Vanden Heuvel said.

For this year, the team has been in contact with Newman Catholic, an 8-man football team, and will play an 8-man schedule. However, Vanden Heuvel says while the games will count towards seeding for their opponents, Wausau East will only be able to play exhibitions.

They are still hopeful for next year, citing high numbers in their underclassmen and middle schools.

“There are about 30-something kids in the 8th grade signed up. So our numbers are getting bigger as we go back,” Kremnitzer said.

Vanden Heuvel views this decision as a chance to hit the reset button and reset the course of Lumberjack football.

“For them to be able to build that bond at a JV level and work together and stick together is really going to help the numbers so that we can hopefully next year make this a one-year hiatus,” he said

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